Summer Illnesses

Heat and humidity increase your chances of many illnesses in the summer. Knowing what is likely to make you sick when the days are long and the sun is beaming can help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), rashes or sunburn and heat illnesses.

UTIs: Dehydration, Pools, Hot Tubs and Sexual Hygiene

Treating a UTI on your own is risky. UTIs may be routine for you, but an infection in your urinary tract needs to be taken seriously. For your own comfort, you can choose to consult with a medical professional from home through a Norton eCare Video Visit or answer some questions from your phone or computer through an eVisit.

Those with female anatomy are far more susceptible to UTIs because of their shorter urethra. Talk to a health care provider if you have the following symptoms.

  • Increased urgency and frequency of urination
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Low-grade fever (below 101 F)
  • Changes in the color or odor of urine, including cloudy, murky or bloody urine
  • Pressure, pain or stabbing feeling in the lower abdomen

UTI From Dehydration

Dehydration any time of year can increase your chances of a UTI as the body flushes less bacteria and other contaminates from your system. Staying hydrated when temperatures rise can reduce your risk of a UTI.

While holding urine because you’re busy having fun or away from a rest room won’t cause a UTI directly, it allows bacteria to accumulate and grow.

UTIs and Swimming

There is a risk of bacteria entering the urethra from swimming, but you should also be mindful that sitting around in a wet bathing suit creates a nice environment for bacteria to grow and cause a UTI.

Change out of wet or sweaty clothes as soon as possible after enjoying the water, shower if one is available and change into dry clothes.

UTIs and Sex

If you are more sexually active during the summer, it’s good to know that the female anatomy is at higher risk of UTI from sexual intercourse, which can allow bacteria to enter the urethra.

Some tips:

  • Urinate before and immediately after sex.
  • Use a barrier, such as a condom.
  • Wash the genitals before and after sex, and if switching between anal and vaginal sex.

Summer Rashes

Whether it’s the sun, a plant, something lurking in the lake water or a tick, summertime can bring a wealth of rashes and other conditions that itch, sting or are just uncomfortable.

Preparation and prevention is helpful whether it’s identifying weeds like poison ivy, wearing sun protection or checking for ticks.

Many common summer rashes don’t typically require a medical provider’s examination, but if the condition lasts for several days and appears to be getting worse or infected, check with your primary care provider, urgent care, a retail clinic or an online visit.

Lyme disease is very rare in Kentucky, but you should be aware of its symptoms, which can include a bull’s-eye rash. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is more common and can include a rash across the torso. Both are spread by ticks. Knowing how to get a tick out safely is the first step to treating a bite.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac rashes are the result of an allergic reaction to an oily substance on the leaves, stems and roots of the plants. Poison ivy rashes can appear hours after exposure or days later. Not everyone has an allergic reaction to urushiol — the oily substance on the leaves. But some are so allergic they don’t have to come into direct contact.

Wear long sleeves, long pants, a hat, and gloves when handling plants or in the woods. Once you are done, wash clothing right away as the oil can linger on clothing. Wash any exposed skin with soap and water to remove the oil.

See a health-care provider if the rash is near your eyes, mouth or genitals, or if it covers more than 25% of your body. Get medical help if you have difficulty breathing, swallowing, fever or a rash that persists beyond a week or 10 days.


Blonds, redheads and people with blue eyes and fair skin have a higher risk of sunburn. But dark skinned people can burn also, so everyone should take precautions such as limiting their time in the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., wearing protective clothing and sunscreen.

Sunburns typically don’t require medical attention unless the burn is severe with multiple small blisters or one large blister over a large area. Severe pain with headaches, vomiting, fever and/or dehydration indicate it’s time to seek medical care.

If your child blisters from a sunburn or experiences any of these symptoms, get medical help right away.

A severe sunburn is often referred to as sun poisoning.

Tick Bites

Ticks can bite anytime of year, but are more prominent in Kentucky during the summer. Deer ticks and dog ticks among the most common in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

Any tick bite should be taken seriously and the insect removed from the skin quickly and safely. If you save the tick in a plastic bag, it may be useful to a health-care provider if you become ill.

If you remove the tick within 36 hours of being bitten, your chances of getting sick are low. Symptoms of a tick-borne disease are similar to the flu with aches, pains and a rash.

The deer tick can spread the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, although there have been very few reports of human Lyme disease infections in Kentucky.

Tick repellants include permethrin, DEET or other chemicals.

Heat Rash

Heat rash, or prickly heat, is more common in infants, but can occur in anyone during the hot and humid Louisville-area summers. Heat rash is the result of sweat getting trapped in the skin and usually goes away on its own as the skin cools.

Adults are susceptible to heat rash in skin folds or where tight clothing is against the skin. Prevention includes wearing loose, lightweight clothing and staying cool.

Heat Illness Prevention and Treatment

Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke – a medical emergency – should all be taken seriously. They’re a sign that your body is having trouble cooling itself.

Heat illness can be caused by your body when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration. Medications and underlying illnesses, such as diabetes, can increase the risk for heat illness.

Signs of dehydration can include dry mouth, dizziness, headache, darker urine, fatigue and muscle cramps.

Sports drinks generally are not needed if you are not exercising more than one hour and can be harmful to children who don’t need the extra sodium and glucose. Water is the best choice if you are exercising less than one hour.

Heat Cramps

The first sign of a heat illness may be heat cramps – heavy sweating and painful muscle cramps typically in the legs and abdomen.

First aid for heat cramps includes firm pressure or gently massage to the cramping muscles. Sips of water are appropriate unless the person complains of nausea. Heat cramps that last more than an hour require medical attention.

Heat Exhaustion

Untreated dehydration and exposure to high temperatures can quickly turn into heat exhaustion. Symptoms include:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Dizziness and/or headache
  • Decreased or darker urine
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Confusion
  • Pale skin
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Profuse sweating
  • Fainting

First aid for heat exhaustion includes moving the person to a cooler environment and loosening clothing. Iced, cool or wet towels or a cool bath and sips of water will also help. Seek immediate medical attention if the person vomits, symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour


Heatstroke is a medical emergency and can cause loss of consciousness; damage to the heart, brain and kidneys; and even death.

If you are around someone with heatstroke symptoms, call 911 immediately.

While you’re waiting for EMS to arrive, move the person into the shade or a cool building, and help cool the body with fans, iced or wet towels, or a water hose. Do not give fluids.

Symptoms of heatstroke:

  • Behavioral changes or confusion
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Lack of sweating
  • Throbbing headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Body temperature above 103°F
  • Hot, red, dry or damp skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Fainting and loss of consciousness

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